March 11, 2006
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - After a successful first day at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., the Fighting Illini men's track and field team returned to the track Saturday to finish what they started. To no surprise head coach Wayne Angel's squad came out flying in all events as they captured six more All-American accolades as well as a second-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay.
The 4x400-meter relay of seniors Nathan Vadeboncoeur, Abe Jones, Tramell Smith and Adrian Walker etched their names in the record books as the team ran a time of 3:06.79 to win their heat and placed second overall against the best the nation has to offer.
"It took a lot of courage," head coach Wayne Angel said. " I am extremely proud of these young men. They hit a bump last week in South Bend but fought back and worked extremely hard to get to this point."
Their time of 3:06.79 will go down in the record books as the fastest 4x400-meter relay in Illinois school history. The previous mark was 3:07.47 set by Chris Jones, Tyrone Jones, Matt Klima and Sherman Armstrong in 1998.
"The words Fighting Illini mean a lot to these young men," Angel said. "As a result of their hard work we are number two in the country and the best relay in Illinois history."
Vadeboncoeur began the race for the Illini with a 46.6 on the first leg of the race. He then handed it off to Jones who ran the fastest leg out of all the Illini with a 45.8. Smith ran the third leg with a 47.1 and Walker brought the relay home in 46.8. All four athletes gained All-American status for their efforts.
The Illini captured two more All-American honors when Jones and Smith ran their individual events.
Jones placed fourth in his 400-meter final heat and finished eighth overall with a time of 46.92. Smith finished ninth in the 800-meter final with a 1:49.15. Both times achieved All-American status.
Sophomore Nick Brown, who became the first Illini to garner All-American status with a jump of 7.56m in the long jump Friday, jumped a 15.45m (50'08.25") in the triple jump to finish 13th overall.
The conclusion of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships marks the end of a very successful indoor season and the start of a very promising outdoor season for the Illini. Next weekend the Illini travel to Columbia, South Carolina to kick off the 2006 outdoor season at the Weems Baskins Relay.
All results from both days of the 2006 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships can be found on: http://ncaasports.com/track-and-field.